The study followed nine women who regularly wore high heel shoes for at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of two years. The long-term implication is this: wearing high heel shoes for long stretches can compromise walking efficiency and may increase the risk of strain injuries. It’s the age old problem every single woman faces throughout her shoe-filled life: the pain and discomfort associated with wearing fabulous heels. Many of us (guilty, here) have throughout the years adopted a “grin and bear it” attitude, choosing our love for stylish shoes over our desire to be comfortable.
Zappan, a podiatrist at Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Center City, is well-aware of the negative repercussions of wearing heels, says that wearing high heels over time can result in the shortening of the Achilles tendon so that wearing flat shoes actually becomes painful. Wearing heels three inches or higher subjects the ankle to instability and makes you prone to sprains. Tension and pain in your lower back are other common complaints because wearing high heels alters the natural balance of your body, exerting more pressure on areas not intended to receive such stress. Wearing narrow, too-tight shoes can even alter your bone structure, causing the big toe to point towards the second toe. Called bunions, the condition can be excruciatingly painful and may require surgery.
What can you do to prevent your body and feet from suffering? Zappan’s advice: Avoid wearing too-high heels for long periods of time. If you have a special event on a weekend that requires you to wear fabulous stilettos for three to four hours, that’s no big deal. It’s when you start wearing towering heels all day, every day, that there’s cause for concern. Zappan advises wearing walking shoes to work and changing into more fashionable footwear after you’ve arrived. Wearing high heels while sitting at a desk puts much less strain on your feet than your full body weight pounding on cement sidewalk.
Zappan also says it’s important to invest in a high-quality shoe made of natural material such as leather. Avoid thin heels, the stilettos. They cause your foot to wobble around. Sometimes, the dress is just going to call for a stiletto, as long as it’s something that’s occasional. If you’re wearing stilettos everyday, you might want to consider a chunkier heel style and change it up a bit. Soft leather allows for some give so that the foot can move naturally, and the porous material breathes, preventing a build up of sweat and moisture inside the shoe that can cause rashes. “The most important thing is prevention,” Says Zappan. “As long as you wear heels in moderation, you can save your feet from a lot of damage.”
In addition, thin soles will almost always give you pain on the bottom of your foot. You want a thicker sole or a little bit of a platform, which will offset some of the pressure when you’re walking. A rubbery kind of material will absorb that pressure. Try a shoe with more coverage up top. The more coverage you have on the top of your foot, the better. Sometimes high-heeled boots are actually something you can wear all day and they don’t bother your feet as much. In the summer, you can try something with an ankle strap or a big wide strap across the top. If you’re prone to blisters and friction, you might want to try that style, something that covers more of the top of your foot.